For Austin-based entrepreneur Zach Yungst, food and health are a big deal. As CEO and co-founder of Cater2.me, Zach scours the US for artisanal vendors with whom to offer corporations unique and nutritious meal programs. For inspirational cuisine and an athletic break from managing a fast-growing business spanning 11 cities, he heads to the Emerald City.
With the natural forestry of Puget Sound surrounding a thriving city filled with beautiful neighborhoods and friendly people, Seattle offers the best of the great outdoors and an urban escape. A variety of innovative farmers’ markets, an architecturally diverse skyline and limitless local hiking trails provide constant newness and adventure.
- Sleep: Pan Pacific Seattle on Terry Avenue is quietly set apart from most of the fancy downtown chains while still centrally located. From its rooms you can see the Space Needle to the west and within walking distance are Capitol Hill’s restaurants and many of the city’s most interesting neighborhoods. For a boutique 4* experience, Pan Pacific is also great value – sign up to the hotel loyalty program for discounted rates that include wifi, great gym access and a car service that drops you off within a 2 mile radius. The breakfast menu includes a delicious buckwheat pancake for $4 or to stretch your budget further go to Whole Foods next door – I live near the flagship in Austin, so I can drop in for a taste of home.
- Eat: Sitka & Spruce has a varied assortment of tasty vegetarian dishes in a cool industrial space. A few blocks away is Hot Cakes – Molten Chocolate Cakery, which is hopping in the evenings. I recommend a vanilla milk shake with the decadent chocolate molten cake, which you can also recreate at home by buying the dough in oven-ready to-go mason jars. Belle Epicurean has a delicious selection of French pastries (specifically the coconut creme slices) and also a great savory menu – I had a fantastic onion tart there. Plus the owner is really friendly.
Seattle has some very high quality local dessert chains. Macrina Bakery‘s several cafes bake a memorable chocolate chip cookie called Olivia’s that is named after the founder’s daughter. Molly Moon’s ice cream parlors serve seasonal flavors such as summer’s strawberry thyme sorbet. There is usually a line but the University Village location is less frantic.
- Shop: For boutiques and great design stores that befit its Scandinavian heritage, head to Ballard Street in a historic district of the city. There’s a bustling farmers’ market on Sunday with a wide variety of fresh local produce, crafts and for some reason a lot of lavender-based potions. As well as lots of cookie and kombucha vendors – I have a sweet tooth so this is a big draw.
Capitol Hill and Fremont also have large farmers’ markets but the original is the massive Pike Place Market, which was founded in 1907. It is a busy tourist destination but worth visiting to see endless rows of fresh fish, flower stalls and eateries. An extension called MarketFront just opened up and looks out over the water.
- Cocktail: Take the 30 minute ferry to Bainbridge Island (sit on the south-facing side for views of snow-capped Mount Rainier) and walk from the terminal along the picturesque Waterfront Trail to Alehouse on Winslow. It has a large selection of local craft beers and ciders, a stack of board games, and outdoor seating. Drop by Sound City Records tucked down an alley a few blocks down the road for vintage vinyls and artsy stationery.
- Caffeinate: Storyville on the top floor of Pike Place Market provides solid almond milk cappuccinos, classy design, and a quiet reprieve from the crowds. Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is an over-the-top and overpriced shrine to the coffee bean, with copper equipment everywhere and tasting flights of Starbucks’ latest blends – go for the experience but not for the value.
- Work Out: The city is surprisingly pedestrian-friendly. I’m a metrics guy who likes to track how far I’ve walked – I have never wandered as far as I have in Seattle. With its large number of parks, there is no excuse for not being outside when the weather is good. Head to 534 acre Discovery Park (bring your own snacks and beverages since there are no vendors) and pick up the free shuttle bus from the visitor center to the beach.
After checking out West Point Lighthouse, take an uphill hike along South Beach Trail with very pretty views across Puget Sound and to Mount Rainier. The Loop Trail takes you back to the visitor center and from there you can head north on a 15 minute walk through the Magnolia neighborhood to the 100-year old Hiram M Chittenden Ballard Locks. There are ingenious fish ladders built into the sides to let salmon escape the gush of the water as the huge locks open and close. A park lines the locks and the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
- Wind Down: Washington Park Arboretum is really peaceful – you can sit quietly in any number of tree-covered nooks. Volunteer Park near Capitol Hill is set back from the traffic and among a pretty Victorian Conservatory and wading pools. During the school holidays, University of Washington‘s empty campus is beautiful and Rainier Vista, running through its heart, is spectacular.
- Skip On: Altura, a well-reviewed Italian restaurant that misses the mark with dishes that, while creative, can turn out very poorly. Chihuly Garden and Glass is super expensive so unless you are a serious fan of Dale Chihuly’s sculptures, there are other things to do.
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